Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wildlife Act takes effect in peninsula and Labuan

December 29, 2010

PETALING JAYA: The Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 has been fully enforced in the peninsula and Labuan as of yesterday.

The Act, which was passed by Parliament in August, has a wider scope and jurisdiction in the protection of more wildlife species and activities related to wildlife.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) said in a statement yesterday that with the Act fully enforced, it would have better control on all wildlife species, wildlife derivatives, hybrid species and invasive alien species.

Perhilitan, it said, would also have the jurisdiction to address issues on wild animal welfare and cruelty.

“The new law will be more deterrent and provides stringent penalties and punishment for poaching and other wildlife crimes,” it said.

The new penalties include fines of up to RM500,000 with jail term of not more than five years while the minimum penalty imposed for several offences is not less than RM5,000.

The new Act also provides mandatory jail sentence for a term not exceeding five years and a fine not less than RM100,000 and not more than RM500,000 for offences involving protected wildlife such as tigers, rhinoceros, serow (a type of goat), gaur (seladang), leopard, clouded leopard and false gharial (a type of freshwater crocodile).

It also provides for the director-general of Perhilitan to appoint any public officer to exercise the powers of enforcement.

The Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) can be viewed at

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another smuggling of exotic wildlife

If you read the article below, you will notice that the seizure was with the help of a tip-off. So competent? Several questions need some answers.
How does the driver so easily vanish?
How come the lorry can pass the Msia's check point?
If it has been a tip-off, enforcers would have ample time to catch the smuggler even before entering the check point!
The driver could be informed by officer on the take?
Where do you think the wildlife will be released? As usual we won't know. Perhaps these wildlife could be sent back to the smuggler. Everything is just doubtful.
Money is king ok!

December 22, 2010
Saved from fate as exotic meat
Story and photos by G.C. TAN

OVER 1,800 endangered reptiles meant for the cooking pot were rescued by the Customs Department at Bukit Kayu Hitam.

Acting on a tip-off, the department personnel seized 475 hill tortoises, 437 freshwater tortoises, 710 monitor lizards and 196 cobras and king cobras from a lorry that was parked near the Malaysia-Thai duty free zone at about 6.40am on Monday.

The reptiles were kept inside blue sacks, plastic bags and plastic baskets that were hidden in between heaps of empty fruit baskets and 20 boxes of sawn logs meant for carving.

State customs director Ishak Ahmad said the lorry had passed through the Malaysian Immigration checkpoint and had queued to enter the Thai checkpoint that opened at 7am.

“We believe the reptiles which weighed 4,300kg would end up in restaurants selling exotic dishes in a neighbouring country.

“The smugglers thought they can fool us by hiding the reptiles in the front part of the lorry and the empty fruit baskets and logs behind,” he said to reporters at the Customs store yesterday.

Ishak said the department laid an ambush for the lorry which was left unattended.

“We moved in after two hours when there was no sight of the driver or conductor,” he said.

He said this was the biggest seizure of wildlife by the department this year.

He said the reptiles worth RM24,000, lorry and the 20 boxes worth RM6,000 would be handed over to the state Wildlife and National Parks Department for further action.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Shame of Pulau Jerejak

SHAME of Pulau Jerejak. PSDC has a share in this resort thus making every Penangites guilty of this shameful acts. I can only say that the people are more interested in making money than to care for our pristine environment. Banning plastic in Penang while such shameful acts persisted really justified the hypocrizy in us. Shame to Penang! Do you want to visit the resort knowing that your food waste will be part of this shameful act?

Welcome to the Shame of Pulau Jerejak (Selamat Datang)

The last picture is from the Quarantine Camp, north of the Pulau Jerejak Resort. Foreign workers stay in this 1911's building, working at the PBA's new reservior

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dictators love nuclear power

December 19, 2010
Malaysian Insider

I am not at all surprised that the Barisan Nasional government has decided to build a nuclear power plant. After all, despite what environmentalists might like to think, the primary case against nuclear power has always been its economics.

When you take into account the lifecycle cost of nuclear power — from feasibility to construction to operation and, finally, decommissioning — it is the most expensive conventional method of producing electricity.

Add to that the inherent risks of nuclear reactors, plus the still unresolved question of what to do with spent fuel, and it is no surprise that the nuclear power industry has seen some very tough times in the past three decades.

Over the past few years, however, high prices of oil, gas and coal, coupled with concerns with carbon dioxide and global warming, have given nuclear advocates a new lease of life. Under current conditions, provided we are prepared to ignore the safety and environmental contamination issues, it is possible to make a conceivable economic argument for nuclear power.

Nuclear power requires tremendous up-front investment followed by relatively low operating costs. Thus all you have to do is assume an unrealistically low interest rate and continually high prices for fossil fuels. Project these assumptions over decades and you can show that nuclear energy is less expensive than using fossil fuels. However, you must carefully avoid all comparisons of nuclear with renewable energy — hydro, wind, solar and biomass — which are undoubtedly superior in terms of economics, safety and environmental protection.

Paradoxically, the characteristics of nuclear power so feared by its critics — enormous capital cost, open-ended escalation clauses and the oligopolistic nature of the industry — makes it a very attractive proposition for corrupt practices, provided you can ride roughshod over the opposition. This is exactly what happened in the Philippines, more than three decades ago.

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)

The story of BNPP, Southeast Asia’s first and only nuclear power plant, illustrates some of the points above perfectly. In 1971, Ferdinand Marcos decided to build a nuclear power plant for the Philippines. However, at that time he was still the democratically-elected president and was unable to convince his people of the need to go nuclear.

By 1973, conditions were in place for him to push through his choice. The opposition had been eliminated by his declaration of martial law in 1972 and the quadrupling of oil prices because of the Arab oil embargo during the Yom Kippur war of 1973, made nuclear easier to sell to the public.

The tragic tale of BNPP has been carefully and comprehensively documented by the conservative business magazine, Fortune, in a remarkable 1986 article entitled “The $2.2 billion Nuclear Fiasco”. Initially Marcos delegated the responsibility for the plant to the National Power Co, the government-owned electric utility, which began negotiating for the supply of two 600MW nuclear plants from General Electric. By 1974 negotiations were more or less complete, with GE offering to supply two 620 megawatt reactors for US$650 million (RM2 billion at prevailing rates).

Westinghouse was late to the game and decided to leapfrog GE by dealing personally with Marcos. Westinghouse appointed Herminio Disini, a golfing buddy of Marcos whose wife was a cousin of Imelda Marcos, as its agent and he was able to arrange for the latecomer to present its pitch directly to Marcos and his cabinet at Malacanang Palace. After the meeting Marcos directed National Power to stop negotiating with GE and deal only with Westinghouse.

In 1976, after many rounds of fruitless negotiations and interference from Marcos, National Power announced that Westinghouse would build the BNPP, with one 626MW reactor, for US$722 million. The intervention of Marcos meant that the Philippine people had to pay a higher price for half the power! In addition, Disini, although he had no prior experience in construction, formed a new company which was awarded major BNPP subcontracts by Westinghouse.

Volcano and earthquake zone

Although the site was contentious, work began quickly, even before seismic and other on-site tests by the government regulator, the Philippines Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), were completed. Just 100km from Manila, BNPP sits on Mount Natib, a dormant volcano and within 40km of three geologic faults.

Alarmed by these facts PAEC called the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) for help. In 1978, two years after construction had commenced, the IAEA concluded that the volcanic and earthquake risks were “improperly addressed” and recommended that construction be stopped until more tests were done.

The PAEC chairman, Librado Ibe, was under tremendous pressure to ignore the IAEA report and issue a construction permit for work on the reactor itself to commence. Unable to resist any further, Ibe signed the permit in April 1979 and, four days later, emigrated with his family to the United States. Ibe explained to Fortune Magazine that he felt it was unsafe to resist Marcos’s lieutenants any longer.

A few months later Marcos himself halted construction because Filipino opposition to BNPP has grown substantially after the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, US. Marcos appointed a new ad hoc commission to study the plant and they concluded that it was unsafe and would have to be modified to meet new US safety standards.

After two further years of haggling, Westinghouse agreed to upgrade the design, at an additional cost of US$700 million. By then the total cost of BNPP had risen to USD$1.8 billion.

Westinghouse rushed to complete BNPP amid growing opposition from Filipino activists. Construction was completed in January 1985 and BNPP was handed over to National Power. Westinghouse collected its money and the last construction worker left in May 1985.

Not a single watt

However, the plant was in no state to be fuelled. Inspections found more than 4,000 faults arising from poor quality control by the main sub-contractors, Disini’s company, and another controlled by a brother of Imelda Marcos. The main problems were attributed to poor welding, faulty pipe support brackets, substandard valve installations and leaking underground conduits and vaults.

In 1986, Marcos was overthrown in the People Power Revolution. Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii while Disini bolted to his villa in Vienna, where he apparently still stays.

Subsequent investigations by Corazon Aquino’s government found evidence of massive commissions paid by Westinghouse to Disini, which he shared with Marcos. The new government attempted to sue Westinghouse for corruption and restitution for faulty construction. In 1996 Westinghouse agreed to pay the Philippines government US$100 million in an out-of-court settlement.

Further studies have indicated it would cost an additional US$1 billion to correct all the defects in design and construction. Rather than throw good money after bad, the Philippines government decided to mothball the plant.

BNPP has been scrupulously maintained for more than 25 years, costing millions of dollars per year. It has not produced a single watt of electricity. The final price rose to US$2.2 billion, three times higher than the original estimate, and the final instalment was paid by the Filipino people in 2007, thirty-two years after construction commenced.


December 19, 2010
Malaysia to rollout two nuclear power plants by 2012

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia plans to build two nuclear power plants that will generate 1,000MW each with the first plant ready for operation in 2021 and the second plant a year later, as part of the overall long-term plan to balance energy supply.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin said the government would engage an international consultant to evaluate the location and requirement for such plants to be built.

Meanwhile, more awareness and education programmes will be carried out to inform people on such a need.

“Hopefully, by 2013 or 2014, we will able to finish evaluating this. As for calling of tenders, we hope it will be done by 2016,” he told Bernama in an interview.

He said Malaysia was heavily reliant on gas and coal for its electricity supply and it was government policy to reduce reliance on fossil fuel. Gas accounted for 64 per cent of the country’s energy generation while the remainder came from coal.

“We must get away from this. (It is) very much imbalance. Most countries have a good balance. We want hydro to assume a prominent role as it is clean but this can only be achieved in Sabah and Sarawak where there is much potential but not in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

Besides, Chin said, other sources of energy such as biomass and wind were too minimal while solar was a good potential but the technology was still very expensive.

“Biomass and wind, there is nothing to shout about. Unless and until solar renewable becomes big enough, this type of energy just compliments (what you already have) as you can’t generate much due to its high cost,” he added.

Chin also said the government needed a balanced approach when it comes to renewal energy as it would not want tariffs to go up due to higher cost.

“Everyone wants to say that we want renewables but what about cost? Can we force the people to accept high tariffs? We have to look at a balanced way, that’s why we can’t depend on fossil fuel only,” he said.

Chin added nuclear has become a more prominent choice in balancing the energy source due to lower maintenance cost and lower tariffs in the long-run.

“For example, in Abu Dhabi, they are building huge solar energy plants but [were] at the same time balancing it up with a nuclear plant. They are not just concentrating on fossil fuel,” he said.

Malaysia began operating a 1MW Triga research reactor since 1982 and has an international nuclear safeguards agreement in place since 1972.

Recently, Malaysia also tightened export control laws to thwart the possibility of nuclear technology smuggling. — Bernama

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Bolehland, macam-macam idiot ada

There must be some hidden connections. First, raintrees are not indigenous species. Trek into any jungle in Malaysia, you do not see any raintree growing wild. Raintrees are imported species. And why do you think these creatures called spending-spree-politicians so happy to insure these trees when even the Temenggor Forest Reserves with huge trees that support the natural ecosystem of rare hornbills, wildlife and flora, of heritage values of million years old were not protected? Insure the raintrees? Idiotic thinking, maybe for the benefit of their cronies from the insurance company. And you as the rakyat will have to suffer the consequences of more tax hikes just to fulfill the need of idiotic politicians. If you value trees, then declare the Belum-Temengor enclaves as a permanent protected areas. Don't you think there are more "social values" in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex? Only an idiot or a corrupt person would insured a few trees but chopped a whole jungle of heritage cum indigenous trees. In Bolehland, macam-macam idiot ada!


December 14, 2010
Four raintrees valued RM1mil each to be insured by City Council

IPOH: Four raintrees here will be insured by the City Council – a first in Malaysia – after they were found to be worth about RM1mil each.

Datuk Bandar Datuk Roshidi Hashim said the value of the trees was determined under the Thyre Tree Valuation, developed by Australian Peter Thyre in 1984.

The factors which determine the value of a tree are its quality, aesthetics and people’s view about it. Its “social value” is also taken into consideration. The trees must also be at least 50 years old and of a certain diameter.

The four raintrees to be insured are at least five-storeys high with a diameter of at least 20m.

“Three are located in D.R. Seenivasagam Park and the other at Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah (Tiger Lane),” Roshidi said yesterday.

The trees will be insured once they are gazetted next year.

After chairing the council’s full board meeting, Roshidi said the council had conducted a study on 300 trees along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Jalan Datuk Onn Jaffar, D.R. Seenivasagam Park, Ipoh Garden and Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab.

Roshidi said the purpose of insuring the trees was to prevent people indiscriminately cutting them.

“It is also to protect the council against public liability claims in case these trees fall on people,” he said.

Roshidi said the study also found over 30 trees to be dangerous and he had instructed them to be removed.

“But rest assured, new trees will be planted to replace those that were chopped down,” he added.


December 14, 2010
Ipoh Mayor cannot see the wood for the trees
Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysia Chronicle

In a pioneering move in Malaysia, Ipoh’s Mayor, Roshidi Hashim announced that four raintrees in the city would be insured by the City Council because they were believed to be worth about RM1mil each. He hoped to gazette and insure 291 trees valued between RM5,000 and RM1.3 million.

“Three are located in D.R. Seenivasagam Park and the other at Tiger Lane (Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah),” said Roshidi.

Roshidi said the value of the trees was determined under the Thyre Tree Valuation, developed by an Australian, Peter Thyre in 1984.

Roshidi stated that the purpose of insuring the trees was to prevent people indiscriminately cutting them.

His remarks will invite ridicule.

The bitter experience of the Ipoh public is that the only people who indiscriminately cut the trees are those who have been sent by the Ipoh City Council to remove them. Trees are usually chopped down without warning.

“We hope to gazette the trees by next year and we will also propose for enactment legislation to be drafted to ensure strict action is taken against anyone who purposefully harms or destroys the trees,” said Roshidi.

“At the moment, those who vandalise trees or chop them down are punishable under Act 172 of the Tree Preservation Order. It is also to protect the council against public liability claims in case these trees fall on people,” he said.

Roshidi said the study also found over 30 trees to be dangerous and he had instructed them to be removed.

“But rest assured, new trees will be planted to replace those that were chopped down,” he added.

Ipohites have ‘lost’ hundreds of trees which once graced the city for decades. Again, Ipohites know only too well that these beautiful trees, mostly tropical flowering trees, are replaced with nondescript palms usually the ‘Royal Palm’.

When asked for an explanation, the usual Ipoh City Council responses following a tree’s removal, are a combination of the following – “don’t know”, “only following orders”, “the rotting tree is a danger to the public”, “palm trees like those in the Prophet’s holy-land are preferred”. It appears that in Ipoh, even trees can take on a political and religious dimension.

Tree removal is not an Ipoh phenomenon. ‘Tree attacks’ also happen in other cities. The premature removal of trees in Kuala Lumpur happened in the name of progress and development.

No one sought to keep them. And yet, Singapore, a concrete jungle, can keep its trees and is also known as ‘the garden of the east’ with several beautiful trees lining their boulevards.

The trees in Ipoh did not make way for development – they were removed because of ignorance, apathy and an unwillingness to nurture and maintain the trees.

No one in Ipoh City Council or their department of parks and town planning, were willing to adhere to a rigorous maintenance, pruning and horticultural regime. ‘No trees’ meant no additional work.

The shortsightedness of the Ipoh City-Council is that they fail to see that trees can provide employment as well as beautify the city.

The Singaporeans had the good sense to acknowledge the social, communal, environmental and economic benefits of trees. But those in Ipoh City Council were proud that they could protect the general public from falling branches and rotting trunks - only because the safe removal of the trees meant the trees could no longer ‘harm’ the public .

Recently, Putrajaya sent a delegation to Singapore on a two-day study trip so that the Singaporeans could teach us a thing or two on planting and maintaining trees. Most people view such government study tours with skepticism. These so called study trips are usually an excuse for a jolly.

Thankfully, the Ipoh city council has not suggested this wasteful study–tour extravaganza, yet. As it is, the money to pay for the insurance of these trees will be paid for by the taxpayer, when all it needs is common sense to protect them from ‘indiscriminate’ people.

For years, Ipohites have shown appreciation for their trees not just for its beauty and aesthetics, its historical significance but also because of its various functions and how it helped enhance communities. These trees were priceless to us.

It was the Ipoh city council which did not show the same appreciation. It would only show ‘false appreciation’ once the trees were valued at a certain price, like the four raintrees which are valued at over RM1 million each.

The daft and corrupted way our leaders think means that everything has to have a monetary tag before it is treasured.

There is one other tree that the Ipoh City Council and the Perak state government have overlooked. This tree is a tourist attraction and also a shrine. It is located close to the Perak State Assembly and is affectionately called ‘The Tree of Democracy’. Have the authorities placed a value on it?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Unreliable GM Mozzies flying around in Malaysia now?

This is worrying. Using an unreliable source to promote environment disaster? With poor management in Bolehland - where stadium could collapsed and parliment that leaked, tell me how not to worry? I believe these GM mozzies already being released (Read 2nd article below). Only time will tell....

GeneWatch UK Press Release
14th December 2010
For immediate release

British Overseas Territory used as private lab for GM mosquito company

A new GeneWatch UK briefing questions the role of the British scientific establishment in the release of three million genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands earlier this year (1). The secret experiments were revealed by UK biotech company Oxitec last month, which claimed misleadingly that the mosquitoes were sterile. The GeneWatch briefing shows that no public consultation was undertaken on potential risks and informed consent was not sought from local people. Oxitec is a spin-out company from Oxford University and the trials were funded by the Wellcome Trust: neither body appears to have required any ethical oversight before using Grand Cayman for the trials.

Oxford University is an investor in Oxitec, which it expects to generate income for it in the future. The company also owes £2.25 million to a multi-millionaire venture capital investor in Boston, which it is due to pay back by 2013. The company is losing £1.7 million a year and its business plan requires it to commercialise its products and charge ongoing fees for continual releases of the GM mosquitoes, which are intended to reduce the transmission of the dengue virus. Former science minister Lord Drayson and former Royal Society President Lord May both acted as advisors to investors in the company.

GeneWatch UK’s Director, Dr Helen Wallace said: “The British scientific establishment is acting like the last bastion of colonialism, using an Overseas Territory as a private lab. There is no excuse for funding trials without public consultation or ethical oversight to help out a spin-out company that is heavily in debt”.

Trials of the same GM mosquitoes are expected in Malaysia soon. The biggest risk with the company’s approach is that a different, more invasive species of mosquito (the Asian Tiger mosquito) may move into the ecological niche vacated by the species it is targeting (the Yellow Fever mosquito), potentially transmitting more diseases and becoming harder to eradicate. The company has created GM Asian Tiger mosquitoes with a view to marketing these in future to tackle this expected problem.

“People in Malaysia should make their own decision about how to best tackle dengue,” said Dr Wallace, “But they need to be informed about the potential risks and why the company is so keen to push ahead. There is a real danger that this approach to reducing mosquito populations could lead to harm to public health. It is also likely to lock developing countries into continual payments for ongoing releases of two GM mosquito products.”

Oxitec’s scientists have published computer models of falling mosquito populations as a result of releasing their GM mosquitoes, but they have not included the effect of the two different species of mosquitoes, and their interactions with the four forms of the dengue virus and other tropical diseases.

Oxitec has close links to the GM crop company Syngenta and is also developing GM versions of agricultural pests which it intends to commercialise in future, partly to combat the growing problem of resistant pests, caused by the use of pest resistant (Bt) GM maize, soybeans and cotton (2). It has received significant public subsidies, including more than £2.5 million in grants from the UK government-funded Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), mainly for joint projects with Oxford University.

For further information contact:

Dr Helen Wallace 01298-24300 (office); 07903-311584 (mobile)

Notes for editors:
(1) Oxitec’s genetically-modified mosquitoes: in the public interest? GeneWatch UK briefing. December 2010. Available on:
(2) Oxitec’s agricultural pest products are listed on:
Bollworms genetically-modified to contain a fluorescent marker have been tested in the USA but these were sterilised using radiation, rather than being genetically-modified with Oxitec’s ‘conditional-lethality’ trait.
Cotton bollworm pests resistant to the Bt toxin used in GM cotton were reported this week in India:


GM mosquitoes: 'Cayman Islands unreliable model'
Sat, 11 Dec 2010 08:55
By G Vinod

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian public are in the best position to decide if the soon-to-be-released genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes is the most effective method to combat the dengue menace.

GeneWatch United Kingdom (UK), a non-profit group that monitors genetic engineering issues worldwide, however, said adequate information must be provided by Oxitec Limited, the producers of the GM mosquitoes.

Its director, Helen Wallace, said that Oxitec cannot use the Cayman Islands' project in 2007, which it touted as a success, as a model for the latest experiment. This is because the island did not have biosafety regulations in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the GM mosquitoes.

“The Cayman Islands is not even a member of the Aarhus Convention or Biosafety Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity which would require it to consult the public and produce an environmental risk assessment before releasing GM mosquitoes into the environment.

“Cayman Islands appears to have been used by Oxitec to bypass the regulatory requirements that apply in the US or the European Union (EU),” she said.

The Malaysian government is keenly promoting the GM mosquito project using the Cayman Islands as the model to justify the proposed release in stages of the GM mosquitioes into several parts of the country, saying that the Cayman project had managed to reduce the Aedes population by 80%.

Wallace, however, dismissed the figures, saying that there has been no documented proof to substantiate the claims by Oxitec.

“The company now says it is producing an environmental impact assessment following the Cayman Islands project, but nothing has been made public. It still has not addressed concerns over the impact of the long-term release of GM mosquitoes,” she said.

Company making losses

Oxitec, which had been running at a loss since 2008, had thus far been evading scrutiny by the Malaysian public, said Wallace.

A check by FMT on the company's financial statement as of Dec 31, 2009, showed that it had suffered losses of 1,697,952 British pounds in 2009 and 1,712,994 pounds in 2008.

Wallace said that it was clear that Oxitec was under tremendous pressure to commercialise its GM mosquito project to generate revenue and Malaysia must be wary.

“The company is losing about 1.7 million pounds annually. It needs to meet all the regulatory requirements first before it can begin marketing its product and is under pressure from investors keen to recoup their investments.

“As a business entity, it needs to keep generating new markets for its GM mosquitoes and developing countries are its primary targets,” said Wallace.

Malaysia's National Biosafety Board (NBB) plans to release between 3,000 and 4,000 GM male mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang and Alor Gajah, Malacca soon in a trial to suppress the Aedes population.

The progeny of the GM male mosquitoes die before they can hatch, thus preventing the spread of the deadly dengue virus. The move by the NBB has come under fire by several concerned groups, among them the Third World Network.

Sunday November 21, 2010
Mutant mozzies

Genetically-modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes will soon be released in Bentong and Alor Gajah in the first-ever field trial in Malaysia.

SOON, genetically-modified (GM) male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes will be buzzing around the districts of Bentong in Pahang and Alor Gajah in Malacca.

No, it is not a follow-up to the Cicakman (2006) movie, but the latest step in the Government’s efforts to control the transmission of the dengue virus.

This virus, which causes dengue fever, is transmitted solely by the bite of the female Aedes mosquito, and most commonly, those of the A. aegypti species.

The GM male mosquitoes are being released in a limited mark-release-recapture field trial designed to test their flying range and ability to survive in the wild.

The small-scale field trial marks the third stage of experiments on the mosquitoes by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR).

The institute has been working on the mosquitoes since 2006, in partnership with Oxitec Limited, a spin-off biotechnology company from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Oxitec owns the rights to the A. aegypti strain OX513A being tested.

A mosquito symbolising dengue fever displayed on a pickup truck during a health campaign by medical personnel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Dengue cases are increasing all over the world, and Asean countries are particularly affected. — A P

For the past few years, IMR has conducted laboratory tests on the mosquitoes, as well as observed them in a fully contained trial facility, which simulated the living space of an urban household of two to four people.

According to IMR’s application for approval to the National Biosafety Board (NBB), the results of their previous experiments have shown that there are no significant differences between the GM mosquitoes and normal A. aegypti mosquitoes in terms of the egg, larval, and pupal stages, and their reproductive abilities.

The only significant difference between the two types of mosquitoes was in the number of days they survived as adults, with the normal types outliving the GM mosquitoes by an average of six days.

This means that once the GM mosquitoes have been bred to adulthood, they generally live, reproduce, and die just like their wild counterparts. The difference lies in the fate of their offspring.

How it will work

The adult A. aegypti male mosquitoes have been genetically modified to include two new traits: fluorescence and conditional lethality.

The fluorescence trait simply allows those mosquitoes carrying the “extra” genes to be easily identified as they will “light up” or fluorescence when a light of a certain wavelength is shone on them. (Think how the various CSI investigators use ultra-violet lights to check for semen stains.)

The conditional lethality trait is the characteristic of main interest. IMR’s application states that this trait causes the normal cell cycle of the mosquito to be suppressed in the absence of the antibiotic tetracycline.

NBB’s Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC) chairman Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir told Fit4Life that what happens is that the gene causes the production of a certain enzyme that reacts with tetracycline in the GM mosquito.

In the absence of the antibiotic, the enzyme builds up to toxic levels and causes the mosquito to die young.

This means that any mosquito born with this gene will die at the late larval or pupal stage of their lives as long as they do not come into contact with tetracycline. (See GM A. aegypti life cycle)

So, once the GM male mosquito mates with a normal female A. aegypti mosquito and reproduces, any offspring they have will not survive to adulthood.

The Cayman Islands in the Carribbean recently concluded a six-month suppression field trial involving the same GM A. aegypti mosquito strain to see if they could lower the population of the A. aegypti mosquitoes in the tested area.

Around three million GM male mosquitoes were released into a 16-hectare area over the months of June to October.

The results, which were announced at a press briefing in London last week, showed that the A. aegpyti population in the area was reduced by about 80%.

Oxitec chief science officer Dr Luke Alphey, who was present at the briefing, said that the results were influenced by migration of mosquitoes from an adjacent area into the tested area.

“Estimates suggest that in many places, 80% suppression (of the A. aegypti population) would actually be sufficient (to control the transmission of dengue).

“We would expect to do much better than that if we were in an area that was not immediately adjacent to an area heavily infested with mosquitoes. In a larger trial, if we were doing a whole town, for example, then we would expect to get much better than 80% suppression,” he said.

In response to a query on how many GM male mosquitoes would have to be released in order to control the transmission of dengue, Dr Alphey said: “In an urban environment, we would expect to have to release in the general range of 20 sterile male mosquitoes per human inhabitant per week.

“And the outcome in a large-scale programme would be suppression to an effectively zero level.”

Where we are

Malaysia is only one step behind the Cayman Islands in terms of testing the GM mosquitoes. The current planned field trial is a preparatory step to a larger scale suppression field trial, assuming that all goes well.

At a press conference announcing the decision of the NBB to approve IMR’s application last month, Dr Parweez said: “We are entering Phase One. Cayman is already in Phase Two – testing the effects on the progeny (of the GM male mosquitoes and normal female mosquitoes in the wild).

“If IMR wants to enter Phase Two, we will have to sit down again to review the application.”

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry Biosafety director-general Letchumanan Ramatha, who was also present at the press conference, said that both the NBB and GMAC had referred to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity in making their decision.

The Protocol, which Malaysia has ratified, is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another.

It seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by these modified organisms.

Dr Parweez said: “We have considered all the various possibilities of releasing these mosquitoes, and we have found that there is very low or negligible risk.”

He said that after their own research and gathering views from the public, including non-governmental organisations and scientists, GMAC only had two potential areas of concern.

“The first of these is that there is a 3% survivability of the GM larvae in the lab. And secondly is the risk of releasing female GM mosquitoes along with the males.”

However, the committee believes that even if some of the GM larvae survive to adulthood, they will die a natural death within the normal two-to-four-week lifespan of the adult A. aegypti mosquitoes, as shown in the laboratory tests by the IMR.

In addition, the field trial will involve the setting up of traps at various locations to see the extent of the GM mosquitoes flight range, and extensive fogging and a gotong-royong will be carried out throughout the tested area after the trial is complete to ensure that all the adult A. aegypti mosquitoes are killed, and that any mosquito breeding grounds are eradicated. (Refer to Compulsory conditions)

On the risk of releasing female GM mosquitoes, Dr Parweez said that GMAC had set the condition that not only should the pupaes of the mosquitoes to be released be mechanically sorted, but each pupae must also be manually rechecked by a team of three highly-trained IMR laboratory technicians.

The difference between the male and female A. aegypti mosquitoes is that the male mosquitoes do not bite humans and do not carry the dengue virus.

What will happen

A total of 4,000 to 6,000 GM male mosquitoes, along with an equal number of normal male mosquitoes, are expected to be released at Bentong and Alor Gajah respectively in the upcoming IMR field trial.

According to IMR’s application, each location will have two release phases.

The first phase will be a release at an uninhabited site around 0.5-1km away from the nearest human population, while the second phase will be at an inhabited site. The areas of the site can be up to five square kilometres. The releases will be carried out from a single point, and may be done over two consecutive days or just one day. The trials may be repeated.

According to an officer in the Bentong Municipal Council, the council had given the approval for the trial to go ahead in a meeting last week.

“We gave them (IMR) the go-ahead to release the mosquitoes any time within the next three months, so it will depend on the weather,” he said.

The officer, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media, added that it would be up to IMR to inform the public about the release through the media.

Meanwhile, an officer in the Alor Gajah Municipal Council, who also declined to be named, said that he had not heard of any planned release of the GM mosquitoes in his district as yet.

A request to interview the IMR scientists involved was turned down.

If the GM male mosquitoes are successful in bringing down the population of A. aegypti mosquitoes, they will be one additional weapon in the arsenal against dengue.

Dr Alphey does not believe that his company’s GM mosquitoes will be the silver bullet that kills off dengue, but he does believe that they will help reduce the transmission of the disease significantly.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Sarawak: Blacklisted Illegal-Logging Tycoon Involved In Running Malaysian World Heritage Site

08 December 2010

Every tourist visiting the Gunung Mulu National Park contributes to enriching the Taib and the Yaw families - the main culprits in the destruction of Sarawak's tropical rainforest.

By Bruno Manser Fonds

Corruption scandal over the Gunung Mulu National Park widens as Samling owner Yaw Teck Seng and his family holding are identified as significant shareholders of the Royal Mulu Resort

Yaw Teck Seng, the controlling shareholder of the controversial Samling timber group, holds a significant equity stake in Borsamulu Resorts, a company that manages all the tourism activities in the Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak's UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. Samling has recently been blacklisted by the Norwegian Government because of its involvement in large-scale illegal logging and environmental destruction in Malaysia and Guyana.

Map of Gunung Mulu National Park

Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that two companies, Sarawak Land and Plieran, who hold a 26% stake in Borsamulu Resorts, are closely related to Samling. Sarawak Land is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Yaw family holding that controls Samling. Plieran is jointly owned by Samling founder Yaw Teck Seng and four children of the Sarawak Chief Minister via two front companies, KBE (Malaysia) and Daya Syukra.

Last week's disclosure that Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has a personal stake in Borsarmulu Resort, a company directed by Taib's sister Raziah and her husband, has provoked a storm of outrage in Sarawak. The new findings mean that every tourist visiting the Gunung Mulu National Park contributes to enriching the Taib and the Yaw families - the main culprits in the destruction of Sarawak's tropical rainforest - while the local Berawan and Penan communities hardly benefit from the conservation area at all.

Berawan community protests against Borsarmulu Resort, the Taib- and Samling-owned management company of the Gunung Mulu National Park.

Corruption must not be allowed to be part of a World Heritage Site.

The Bruno Manser Fund is to lodge a complaint with the UNESCO World Heritage Committee concerning the management and ownership structures of the Gunung Mulu National Park. Corruption must not be allowed to be part of a World Heritage Site. The Bruno Manser Fund is asking the Sarawak state government to hand over the Royal Mulu Resort and the management of the park facilities to the local communities whose native lands have been taken off them for the National Park.

Learn Planting Trees on Warisan 100-storeys building

Trees on top the new Casino in Singapore

Yes, the most "kepala otak udang" from Bolehland, a by product from the ketuanan otak. We have FRIM which have years of tree planting research, we have so many Universities with trees planting experiences. USM is one example of a "Garden Universiti"....and this stupid ministry is trying to waste our tax payers' money by learning how to plant trees from Singapore....probably want to play jackpot at the new casino kut or maybe learn how to plant trees on top our 100-storeys Warisan building. Betui betui Bodohland!


Putrajaya to learn how Singapore plants trees

By Lee Wei Lian
November 18, 2010

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 18 — A delegation from Putrajaya will go to Singapore next month in a two-day study trip to see how the island republic plants and maintains its trees said the secretary general of the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry Datuk Haji Ahmad Phesal Talib today.
This comes as the ministry said it will plant 30,000 trees in the KL region beginning March next year to boost the city’s liveability.

Another Comment:-


Malaysia has one of the greatest tropical rain forests in the world (or should I say used to) and now it wants to learn from Singapore how to plant trees?

See how much we have fallen.

See how much we have raped our forests in the name of greed and corruption.

This is our nation. God gives us resources and we just simply throw it away and now we want to ask others for it back.

We have university pertanian and all these government agricultural research agencies in this country.

Hello!!! What are the people inside these places learning and researching all these years?? We can't even plant trees ??

Coral in Penang

20 years ago there were soft corals and sea fans off Pantai Kerachut and at Pulau Tikus. Pulau Kendi is an island south of Penang Island that don't have proper beach for boat to stop and that could be the reason few people ever been there, me included. Glad to know that the corals are thriving at Pulau Kendi.


December 8, 2010
Expert: We must preserve corals

GEORGE TOWN: Pulau Kendi in Penang is one of many islands in the country that is rich in coral but has not been gazetted as a marine park.

Marine biologist Prof Zulfigar Yasin said there was no conservation work to protect the coral on these islands.

“If the situation persists, the fishes will lose their habitat and Malaysia will slowly lose part of its heritage,” he said during an interview at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Zulfigar, who is with the university’s School of Biological Sciences, was a presenter at a five-day training workshop on coral taxonomy at the university which ends today.

He cited other islands like Pulau Songsong in Kedah, some islands near Langkawi and Pulau Sembilan in Perak should be gazetted as marine parks to conserve their coral.

“Pulau Payar, for example, is providing the fishermen a sustainable source of fish after being gazetted as a marine park,” he said.

Currently, there are six marine parks in the country, which are made up of 42 islands in Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and Sabah.

In a related matter, Prof Zulfigar said the government should incorporate a more specific policy to address coral bleaching as the issue would impact the coastal communities and the country’s tourism industry in the long-term.

He was commenting on the closure of nine popular snorkelling sites at marine parks in Kedah, Pahang and Terengganu in July for several months because of coral bleaching.

The Marine Parks Department had banned recreational activity and the sites were off limits to divers and coral enthusiasts.

Dr Zulfigar said Malaysia currently only has a general policy to protect bio-diversity and it was high time to rescue the coral reef by creating public awareness while adding that another factor related to coral bleaching was the rise in acidity levels of sea water due to human activities.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bigger penalties for illegal logging from next year

Dec 1, 2010 MYT 3:28:00 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The penalty for illegal logging will be doubled to RM1mil and jail term raised to between five and 20 years, after amendments to the relevant law are made next year.

Currently, the penalty for illegal logging is RM500,000 and jail of between one and 20 years.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the decision was made Wednesday to amend the National Forestry Act 1984 (Act 313), to intensify law enforcement pertaining to illegal logging and similar offences.

He said the Attorney-General's office would study the minimum amount of penalty before the Bill could be tabled in Parliament next year.

"The National Forestry (Amendment) Act 2010 will emphasise on transferring the burden of producing evidence from the prosecutors to those who are found to possess the illegal logs," he said, after chairing the 66th National Land Council meeting here Wednesday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

For Sarawak

Radio Free Sarawak on air
Monday, 15 November 2010
By Bruno Manser Fund

We have been informed that Radio Free Sarawak has gone on air this morning. The new alternative radio station will broadcast two daily broadcasts on shortwave, presumably in Iban and Malay (Bahasa). It aims at Sarawak's rural communities who lack access to independent media. As you might know, the media in Sarawak are strictly controlled by an extremely corrupt state government under Abdul Taib Mahmud and the logging companies who own and control all major media outlets.

The transmission details of Radio Free Sarawak are as follows:

1st transmission: 0630-0730 local time (GMT +8) on 7590 kHz (short wave)

2nd transmission: 1800-1900 local time (GMT +8) on 15680 kHz (short wave)

The Radio Free Sarawak producers send us the following message:

"Please send the details to all your Sarawak friends so that they know the existence of the radio-which will become an alternative news source to the Sarawakians, especially to those who stay in the interior. The folks in the interior have been fed with a monotonous 1-sided views from the ruling parties-if at all they can receive the TV and radio transmissions. So they need another avenue-and Radio Free Sarawak intends to fill in this gap."

With best wishes,

Your BMF team

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Ban helps increase wildlife population in Johor

Sunday November 7, 2010

JOHOR BARU: The royal ban on wildlife hunting in Johor has helped to steadily increase wildlife population in the state.

Johor National Parks Corporation director Abu Bakar Mohamed Salleh said the wildlife population, especially that of tigers, had seen an increase and he attributed this to the ban that was decreed by Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar in April last year.

“Previously, we recorded 11 tigers at our national park.

“Since the ban was imposed, we have sighted four more tigers, including three cubs.

“We are happy that the number of tigers in the state has increased,” he said, adding that the population of their prey had also increased.

“We have noticed that animals that used to be targets of hunters such as rusa (deer), kijang (barking deer) and kancil (mousedeer) had also increased,” he said.

Abu Bakar added that heightened surveillance of the national park had also helped the wildlife population to grow.

“We are working closely with our counterparts in (neighbouring) Pahang to ensure poachers do not hunt in our forests,” he said.

Abu Bakar, however, said poaching had not been eradicated.

“We still have hunters breaching our borders. Hopefully, with the help of the public and increased surveillance, we will be able to stop them,” he said.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The gods must be crazy

Tue, 02 Nove 2010 06:38
By Maclean Patrick

It is human nature to remember your maker when things are bleak. Crisis and emergency and disasters remind us that there is a higher force at work, often times in conflict with the wants of mere mortals.

Who are we to question the heavens?

We accept the fact that we are mere dust in God's creation.

Yet, this mere fact has been turned into excuses by mortals seeking to hide the truth of the matter. Hiding fact behind a cosmic guise is nothing new. It has been practised by civilisations throughout history.

The Mayans cut out the hearts of captive soldiers to appease their gods when the harvest was bad or sickness hit the nation. The Egyptians believe that Pharaoh was a god in his own right, thus you should never question his word.

In Sarawak, the gods are the culprits for landslides and log jams and possibly the drought hitting the Rajang River.

The gods are responsible for putting Sarawak in the record books for staging the longest logjam in the world. And if that was not enough, the gods have been able to reduce the longest river in Sarawak, from mighty torrents of water to a mere stream.

Yes, the gods in Sarawak are really powerful. And with 10 pigs and 50 “piring” (small plates) and 200 people in attendance, the gods will promise not to break their record for the longest logjam and maybe turn a blind eye to the impoundment at the Bakun Dam and allow the Rajang River to flow again.

And before Barisan Nasionals start spinning the tale that disaster would strike Sarawak if Pakatan Rakyat takes over government, let’s look at the real disaster playing out under our noses.

Any sensible person, religious or not, would see that the logjam is man-made. Any sensible person, with basic common sense, would see that the drying up of the Rajang River can be traced back to the impoundment of the Bakun Dam.

Yet, we find none of these sensible people in the current establishment.

Scary reality

So far, there is no official report concerning the logjam, even though an investigation was promised to the people of Sarawak and various officials making trips to assess the situation.

Yet, reality seems too scary and it amounts to bad press for the establishment; hence, it takes the easy way out – blame the gods.

It is convenient to point the fingers at the gods and hold an appeasement ceremony. The gods are happy and no report is needed to explain things.

Who would question divine mischief? Aren’t the gods more superior to a report written by mere mortal man?

In one smooth move, the logjam has been swept under the carpet and the Ibans are made out to be really feeble-minded people who belong to the Stone Age.

Hooray for the government of Sarawak, which takes pride in dealing with the gods when it comes to man-made natural disasters.

How then will the drying up of the Rajang River be explained away? Will we need another 10 pigs and 50 “piring” to appease the gods of the Bakun Dam? Is nature to blame because the rains have not come on time or the gods have not allowed enough rain to fall in the Bakun area?

Clearly, the gods have gone crazy in Sarawak. And our sensible politicians are giving us the answers we all have been waiting for. It is a good thing that our local politicians have priestly backgrounds that allow them to mediate between this world and the nether-world in matters that defy explanation such as the logjam and the drying up of a river.

God from the machine

There is something wrong, seriously wrong, in Sarawak: people want to see Sarawak modernised and high-tech yet they won’t bat an eye to stooping down to old-wives tales in order to appease the masses.

The people of Sarawak want real answers to real problems. The logjam caused real problems to the people living along the Rajang River. It killed off large numbers of fish, prawns and river animals.

It stops everyday life for many riverside communities – children could not attend school, fishermen could not fish, commerce was at a standstill and river folks could not get much needed supplies.

And this is now compounded by the drying up of the Rajang River. With waters running dangerously low, the same effects of the logjam will be felt in the long term by the same communities who were just getting over the October logjam incident.

We want real answers and not mere “deus ex machina”.

The Latin “deus ex machina” meaning “god from the machine” points to a practice in ancient times in theatre which the script writer would employ to explain problems in the plot where no apparent solution can be provided to the audience.

Where no answer can be given, a god would appear on stage as it lowered down by a mechanical crane from the ceiling or raised via a lift through the floor of the stage.

This practice was considered bad writing and the practice was frowned upon by ancient writers such as Aristotle, who advocated a solution that was logical and acceptable based on the logic of the story.

The Sarawak government has pulled a “deus ex machina” on the people of Sarawak, and no amount of pigs or “miring” should blind the people to the fact that the government of the day has truly failed in looking after the welfare of the Rajang River communities.

Maclean Patrick is a webmaster based in Sarawak.

Source here


Ibans to invoke spirits against 'irresponsible' loggers
Tue, 02 Nove 2010 06:00
By Joseph Tawie

KAPIT: Some 200 Iban elders and chieftains will seek the help of their “Petara” (gods) to punish those who were responsibile for the logjam in Rajang River and its tributary Baleh River.

According to an Iban shaman, who refused to be identified, they will be performing the traditional “miring” (ritual) next month to seek the help of the spirits because the government has refused to act against those responsible for the logjam.

The logjam has caused so much hardship and misery to the people who live along the rivers.

“We have to call our ‘Petara’ (gods) to punish those responsible,” said the shaman.

Meanwhile, State Land Development Minister James Masing confirmed that a massive “miring” ceremony will be held next month in Kapit to appease the spirits whose anger was believed to have caused the logjam along the Baleh and Rajang rivers.

The ritual is also to calm the angry Ibans living along the Rajang and Baleh rivers as their livelihood is affected by the logjam.

Ten live pigs, 50 sets of “piring” (ritual ingredients) and foodstuff will be required for the ceremony.

Some 50 longboats will be needed to transport the longhouse chiefs and guests to Muara Sungai Meratai, which is a four-hour journey by boat from Kapit.

Kapit district officer, Simon Japut, who is involved in the planning of the ceremony, said that after the ceremony, the 10 pigs will be slaughtered, five on each of the river banks, and their carcasses hanged on rocks at the Muara Sungai Meratai.

Massive losses suffered

Japut said that after the ceremony, no one will be allowed to pass through the site for at least one week. The cost of organising the ceremony is about RM50,000.

He added that the estimated loss of properties and infrastructures caused by the logjam is RM1.8 million. This amount did not include the two bridges which were washed away by the debris at Meratai.

None of the longhouses along the Rajang and Baleh rivers had been damaged, but some of the longhouses were badly affected by soil erosion and needed urgent attention, especially on building retention walls.

The logjam was caused when the logs, which have been piling up over the years as a result of indiscriminate logging at Sungai Meratai, a tributary of the Baleh River, were washed away.

The logs drifted down on Oct 7 after a downpour and caused a jam which spread over 250km of the Rajang and Baleh Rivers, suffocating tonnes of fish and cutting off river communications.

Then a few days later, the Rajang River began to dry up soon after the impoundment of the Bakun Dam on Oct 13.

Source here

Sunday, October 31, 2010

'Stop impoundment of Bakun dam'

Sun, 31 Oct 2010 11:56
By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR wants the state government to stop the impoundment of Bakun dam immediately.

The party wants the governemt to conduct a 'fresh and independent' feasibility report and environmental impact assessment (EIA) to re-evaluate the viability of the hydro-electric dam project.

“This is in view of the problems brought about by the impoundment of the Bakun dam,” Baru Bian, chairman of Sarawak PKR told reporters.

He said the impoundment of the dam had caused hardship to the people and destroyed the ecological system.

He added that the Balui River which is the upstream part of the Rajang River had dryed up and marine life dying.

“The Balui River (the upstreamd part of the Rajang River) is drying up.

"We have received reports and complaints that river communications have been cut off, food rations, medical supplies and other essential services are affected. A lot of fish, especially the most expensive fish, the empurau are dying.

“So we call on the government to immediately stop the impoundment of the dam as the relevancy and accuracy of the factors and data taken into consideration in the feasibility study and EIA reports conducted in the early 80s are now questionable and doubtful,” Bian said.

He said the feasibility studies conducted 30 years ago had not taken into account the deforestation in the upper reaches of Sungai Balui which had inevitably affected the water retaining capacity of the catchment areas.

Another glaring flaw of the EIA is the dry riverbed experienced now which could not have been anticipated, he said.

Bian also warned the government not to proceed with the construction of the Baram dam project as it woul affect the people’s livelihood, longhouses and their lands will be much worse than that of Bakun dam.

Some 25 longhouses, churches, schools and clinics will be affected by the dam which is expected to submerge 38,900 hectares or 389 sq. km of land.

And more than 20,000 natives will have to be moved out and resettled, he said.

Source here

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rajang River has no future

Rajang River has no future. Logging, then the logjam, then when Bakun Dam was dammed, you have Rajang river drying up so fast that 2 weeks ago it was floating with logs and today it is silting and drying up. I don't want to discuss the consequences anymore. But I know the ecosystem will never be the same again. Greed has taken over humanities. Blame it on the people that still vote for the greedy government.

Tuesday October 19, 2010
Rajang River is drying up
The Star

SIBU: Less than two weeks after the logjam disaster in Rajang River, the country’s longest river is again a cause for concern for people living along its banks.

Express boats have not been able to ply the Sibu-Belaga-Sibu routes since Friday as the river is drying up due to the current dry spell. The only option left for travellers is the gruelling journey on the 190km Bintulu-Bakun road.

Floating pontoons at the Kapit Express Boat Wharf along Khoo Peng Loong Road here are now resting on a muddy river bed.

“This time the water level went down really fast. Just 10 days ago, it almost reached the road level, a drop of more than 2m,” boat skipper Lau Ah Kuok said.

Lau said he believed the drastic change in the water level was partly due to the impoundment of the 205m-high Bakun Dam which began last Wednesday.

The flooding of the dam, which is South-East Asia’s largest, is estimated to take seven months and in the process, would flood 69,000ha of land.

Social activist Wong Meng Chuo, who has a masters degree in Environmental Management from the Imperial College in London, said he was worried that a prolonged drought would pose severe environmental and ecological consequences below Bakun Dam.

Wong said the Rajang River was denied one-third of the water source with the impoundment of the dam.

“Firstly, river navigation in some areas will stop due to low water. Secondly, salty water from the ocean would come up to as far as Sibu. Thirdly, marine and river life will be affected,” Wong pointed out.

He explained that with less water in the river, there would be less oxygen which could cause some species of fish to die. Wong added there could also be more landslides along the riverbanks as the soil structure would be different.

He said it was unlikely that the impoundment of the dam would stop because it would incur a loss of RM330,000 per day to do so.

The low water level is also a cause for concern for the RV Orient Pandaw, the only cruise ship here.

“If the dry weather continues, I am worried our ship would have difficulties navigating near the Pelagus rapids,” the ship’s purser Neville Joseph said, adding that October to December were peak seasons with an average of 40 passengers per trip.

Durin vegetable farmer Kong Chiek Wak is worried the prolonged dry weather will seriously affect his vegetables.

“We only have a small water pump. It would be difficult to pump water from the Rajang for farm use if the water level is too low,” Kong explained.

The low water level will also affect the transportation of logs by barges and cargo boats from Kapit-Baleh areas to the sawmills in Sibu or for export through Tanjung Manis.

Sibu Water Board general manager Daniel Wong said he was monitoring the situation closely.

“The water supply in Sibu is normal and there is no cause for alarm now,” he said.

At about 4.30pm yesterday, heavy rain fell for about an hour on Sibu after a dry week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Continuing the Raping in Iban Country

Photo source here
Monday, October 18, 2010
Taib's loggers: Sebuyau Ibans prepare to form a human shield

By Christina S Suntai

My brother Numpang anak Suntai and his wife, Helen Unchat, together with 11 tribal leaders and villagers from 11 longhouses are now camping in Ulu Sebangan as we speak. Today I want to refer to their make shift camp as “Langkau Ngintu Menoa.”

They are leading the villagers to form a blockade to stop bulldozers used by illegal loggers, Quality Concrete Holdings, whose Executive Chairman is Tiang Ming Sing, from further penetration into their native customary lands, which include rice fields, pepper vines, fruit trees, rubber plantations and communal forest at Ulu Sebangan.

The illegal loggers, Quality Concrete Holdings, whose Executive Director is Tiang Ching Kok and major shareholder is Rodiah Binti Mahmud, sister of CM Taib Mahmud remain relentless in their efforts to grab the valuable trees. They are bulldozing their way to get to the trees and destroy everything in their path! Every tree they killed for the timber, 28 other little trees will die with it. So far the loggers continue to steal the valuable trees when no one is around to stop them. Therefore the villagers decided to set camp in the jungle to guard the forest, to ensure that the valuable trees will not be stolen by Quality Concrete Holdings.

Read more here

More story here

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unholy mess

Nature is unleashing the consequences of greed, courteousy of Pek More and cronies....

14 October 2010

The sight of thousands upon thousands of logs mingled with debris and mud clogging up Sungai Rajang for as far as the eye could see was reminiscent of scenes from the 2004 tsunami in Aceh. Even without the floating corpses and cars that accompanied the earlier event, it was not hard to comprehend that what happened in Sarawak last week was a disaster whose scale, though yet to be fully measured, was huge. Little wonder that local residents flocked to the river banks to look at the strange sight. Elders described it as a portent of the end of the world, God's punishment for mankind's rapacity. A combination of heavy rains upriver, denuded ground and a massive landslide resulted in this -- a 250km logjam starting from Ulu Baleh to Sibu -- nearly half the length of the mighty Rajang, Malaysia's longest river. The logjam cut off Kanowit, Song and Kapit from Sibu because express boat services could not traverse the river safely.

The sheer flood and mud flow killed fish and polluted the river, and may possibly affect the peat-swamp-rich area of the delta. If not recovered, the logs will wash out to sea and continue their destruction there. A fully grown tree can suck up five tonnes of water. It is for this reason that trees are described as nature's great flood mitigator. Without them, every time it rained heavily, water would hurtle downstream and flood the area there.

Whether further investigation proves this to be a natural or man-made disaster, the fact is that this is an environmental calamity. How is it possible for an entire mountain to collapse from the beating of days of heavy rains? Where did the logs come from that formed the initial debris dam that then broke and swept its deadly detritus downstream?

These questions have been implied by Baleh assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr James Masing, who has acknowledged that the area upstream is heavily logged. Heavy rain may be an "act of God", and humankind might be helpless in preventing it. But, for the trees that are felled and the ground laid bare, humankind must take responsibility. Eighty per cent of Sarawak's 12.3 million hectares is supposed to be covered by forests. The Sarawak Forest Department's remote-sensing system should gauge the state of forested areas to see whether what remains corresponds with legitimate logging activities. Perhaps, too, it's time to tighten laws, so that it is not possible to run out of forest cover, even by legitimate means.

We have been warned.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Field testing approved for GM mosquitoes

Beware, GM mosquitoes will be here soon. I wonder how the ecosystem will be affected. Disaster in waiting?
October 11, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Biosafety Board has approved the release of genetically-modified Aedes mosquitoes for field testing, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

However, the decision would still need Cabinet approval, he said.

“Clinical trial at the laboratory level was successful and the biosafety committee has approved it for testing in a controlled environment,” he said.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would present it to the Cabinet for approval, he told a media conference at the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific here yesterday.

The board had assessed the field experiment proposal from the Institute of Medical Research to release the mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang, and Alor Gajah, Malacca, in early October.

Male Aedes Aegypti would be genetically-modified and when mated with female Aedes mosquitoes in the environment, it is hoped the killer genes would cause the larvae to die. (The Aedes Aegypti mosquito can spread the dengue fever, Chikungunya and yellow fever viruses).

“We see it as the most efficient and fastest way in eradicating Aedes mosquitoes from our local environment,” Liow said, adding that Aedes is not a species endemic to Malaysia.

However, he said, dengue posed a major concern in Malaysia because the number of cases has increased by more than 25% this year.

Liow said his ministry was taking the disease seriously because it was not only a health issue but also an environmental hazard.

WHO Western Pacific regional director Dr Shin Young-soo said Malaysia is leading in the research in this area but cautioned that care be taken in introducing a new species to the environment.

He said global experts on tropical diseases research would discuss the issue soon and decide on what they would do with the new development.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Severe Penalties To Stamp Out Poaching

October 07, 2010

IPOH, Oct 7 (Bernama) -- Illegal wildlife traders and poachers will face stiffer penalties when the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 is gazetted and enforced by year-end, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

The act was amended from the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to stamp out illegal wildlife trading and poaching, he told reporters after opening the Department of Environment's Vehicle Smoke Testing Centre here Thursday.

Under the new act, poachers or those who keep endangered species of animals can be fined up to RM500,000 (up from RM5,000 before) or imprisonment, he said.

The Wildlife and National Parks Department has established an inter-agency cooperation with the Customs, army, People's Volunteer Corps, Orang Asli Affairs Department and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to curb wildlife smuggling.


The Macaque that abducts and bites

The news today about a macaque that abducts, bites and drops baby from the roof is horrible and is going to be a common phenomena. Human has been constantly encroaching into wildlife's territories and destroying their food and habitats. Its payback time! If you read the article here you could identify two key points that caused the aggressive behaviour of the macaque.

1. Staying in a "residential areas with a foliage of trees", just like an island of forest, no corridor for the monkeys to move. Seeking food from the residential houses is the best option for the monkeys. These macaques are omnivorous. Anything moving that is small enough to carry will be food.

2. "The family kept a female monkey in captivity". And the male was attracted and perhaps that was the consequences of taking something that belonged to the wild.

In all cases, wildlife is best left in the wild. The consequences are too many.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kenyir Lake a FTZ

The headline on Staronline (29 Sept 2010) quoted "Kenyir Lake, the largest man-made lake in South-east Asia, has been officially declared a Free Trade Zone (FTZ), Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said said".

OMG...a FTZ in an unpopulated wilderness? On a lake? Well, the first thing that came ringing in my head was the happy drinkers enjoying their boozes and getting drunk and perhaps drown too.

Suddenly the locals will have a new job - as smugglers. Many poor locals thriving to earn a living by becoming smugglers will perhaps be shot to death or put into prison. I am trying to recall many years ago when Penang was a FTZ. Being so near the mainland, smugglers had a good time smuggling dutyfree goods. Customs tightened their enforcement and many were shot in the smuggling attempts. Penang is an island and it was still not an easy task to enforce the rules. Imagine the situation in a lake like the largest lake in South East Asia, with so many many islands, so many many hiding coves and so many many trees to hide behind - do you think there won't be any smugglers? Then we have the increase in drinking and smoking habits because these items will be dammned cheap! Many bottles and cigerattes butts will be thrown into the lake. Boats and ferries will increase, bringing all the pollutions related with motor machines. I don't know about the effect on the fish but then these exploitations will surely damage the ecosystem slowly but surely.

In the name of making money from tourism, the greedy government couldn't care a hood about the environment, the locals and the culture. Development will be coming in leaps and bounds and as usual many cronies will be getting fat contracts. Business towkays will be happy with incoming tourists. Land prices will escalate. The poor will be forced to leave the kampungs. Everything will not be the same again. Bringing a sin city into a pristine culture of wilderness is surely not the right thing to do.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A pittance for your rights, please

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 12:50
Source here

PETALING JAYA: How would you like RM250 in exchange for the inheritance that has been the source of your livelihood? That is how much the Sarawak state government is offering Iban villagers in rural Sebangan so that timber companies can have free rein of the rainforest.

Sebangan is a small range of rainforest in which there are 16 Iban villages. The Ibans have lived there for generations and depend on the forest for their livelihood.

Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Abdul Mahmud now has his eye on the area, according to Sarawak Report, a website dedicated to exposing alleged corrupt practices by Taib and his family.

It quoted Nicholas Mujah, secretary-general of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, as saying that loggers can reap 700 tons of wood from every hectare of the Sebangan jungle.

Taib's sister, Raziah Mahmud, is said to be a shareholder and director in Quality Concrete Holdings Berhad (QCHB), the company that wants the timber there.

“Taib traditionally demands a rate of RM100 per ton of timber,” says Sarawak Report, quoting timber industry insiders. “However, in this latest case the sum is likely to be substantially larger, given the value of the hardwoods at the Sebangan reserve.”

With 3,305 hectares of forest at his disposal, Taib would stand to gain at least RM250 million, it said.

Because of the land's Native Customary Rights (NCR) status, QCHB has been given a conditional occupation certificate valid for only a year. One of the conditions is that the company needs the permission of the NCR landowners to start logging.

However, QCHB appears to have taken wood from the forest without asking.

”Nobody warned or consulted us about anything,” said Sadun Ason, Kampong Ensika's headman, adding that he found out about the poaching when a villager spoke of logging equipment being shipped upriver on July 11.

Ason then contacted the local penghulu, who not only admitted to having knowledge of the poaching but also told the headman and his people that any form of protest was futile.

"We were told the whole matter was perfectly legal, and we had no rights," Ason told Sarawak Report.

Villagers bribed and tricked

According to the article, Taib elects his own headmen and penghulus for villages in the interior.

In the case of Kampong Ensika, he appointed an outsider and a member of his Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, as the penghulu a few weeks before QHCB's logging licence was issued.

The article also said that Forestry Department and Land Survey officials were friendlier with QCHB's representatives than with the villagers.

Despite records from the Land Registry stating that the land in question was gazetted as NCR land in 1956, the government agents claimed there was no evidence that the area had such a status.

Sarawak Report said QCHB had offered to pay each villager RM250 and each headman RM800 if they would sign away their rights to the forest.

It also alleged that in one instance QHCB bribed and tricked 11 villagers and three headmen into giving up their rights.

It said the victims, who were illiterate, were taken to Sibu in QHCB's vehicles for a dinner and were then asked to sign documents waiving their rights to their land without any lawyer being present. They did not get copies of the documents, it added.

“We have been threatened that if we oppose this, we are going against the government and opposing development,” a villager told Sarawak Report.

“But why does the government act like a common thief in this case and how much development can we achieve for RM250?”

The article also said Sebangan's villagers were expecting gangsters allegedly employed by QCHB to intimidate the indigenous population.

Sarawak Report said it would forward the information it had to a legal team headed by activist lawyer Baru Bian.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

MB: Perak will not gazette all its forests as non-logging areas

"Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed" by I. F. Stone

If you want to enter Temengor Forest Reserve where alot of logging is going on, you need a Forestry permit....and that permit takes weeks to process. The ultimate aim is to discourage you from entering. At every entry point, Forestry staffs are there to mann the trucks coming in and out. So tell me, how can illegal logging activities happened? How can ordinary people enter to take pictures when entry permits are so strict? I tend to believe the quote by I.F. Stone above. Do you agree?

What about this valuable gems mine in the Temengor Forest Reserve? Any accounting for mining this valuable gems?


Sunday September 26, 2010

IPOH: Perak cannot entertain demands by any party that wants all its forested areas to be gazetted as non-logging areas, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

“Logging cannot be stopped completely because it is one of the major industries in the state,” he told reporters at a Barisan Nasional Hari Raya open house here yesterday.

“We are ready to work with any party to ensure that our forests are not completely destroyed,” he said, adding that it would also work with the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in its effort to protect the state’s rainforests.

Dr Zambry said the state government had already gazetted an area about five times the size of Singapore at the Royal Belum rainforest as a state park.

He agreed that the state government needs the support of the MNS and WWF to solve the problem of illegal logging and poaching at Royal Belum and its surrounding areas.

He said the two organisations could help by submitting to the government pictures of illegal logging and poaching activities.

“We will ask the relevant authorities to identify those involved and bring them to justice,” he said.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

MACC raids wildlife dept over ‘permit issue abuse’

September 25, 2010
The Star

PETALING JAYA: Anti-corruption officers raided the headquarters of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) in Cheras following allegations of abuse in the issuance of wildlife permits.

It was learnt that officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission (MACC) went to the headquarters on Tuesday morning and carted away files, documents and laptops related to wildlife permits and licences to help in their investigations.

According to a source in the department, the MACC personnel asked for the office of a high-ranking officer in charge of the overall issuance and monitoring of wildlife permits and licences.

Although the officer, believed to be responsible for the support and recommendation in the approval of such permits was on leave, MACC personnel were allowed to enter the office.

It was believed that during the raid, several officers were also interviewed.

When contacted, a Perhilitan senior officer confirmed that MACC was at the headquarters to conduct an investigation but declined to elaborate.

He also refused to speculate if any wildlife permit issued to infamous wildlife trader Anson Wong or his family member had been revoked.

In confirming the incident, MACC investigations director Mustafar Ali insisted that it was merely “visit” and not a raid, but declined to comment further.

The headquarters is one of the three offices in the country - besides Penang and Johor branches - responsible for the issuance of wildlife permits.

There are three types of permits and licences for the handling of wild animals.

A licence is required to handle protected wildlife such as reticulated pythons and meerkats which fall under Schedule Two, Four and Five of the Protection of Wildlife Act while a special permit is necessary for totally protected species like Malayan tigers and Sumatran rhinoceros, and orang utan.

A Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) permit is required for all activities involving the import and export of wildlife listed under it such as snakes and turtles.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas had announced that the department would be undergoing a shake-up to weed out officers who were in cahoots with illegal wildlife traders.

The department had been dogged with allegations of corruption among its enforcement officers following Wong’s arrest at KL International Airport on Aug 26 for trying to smuggle out 95 boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers and a Mata Mata turtle without a permit while on transit from Penang to Jakarta, Indonesia.

The ministry, particularly Perhilitan, had been heavily criticised by conservation groups after Wong was sentenced on Sept 6 to six months’ jail and fined RM190,000 by the Sepang Sessions Court.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers is appealing against the sentence while a Penang National Park and Wildlife Department director was reportedly transferred to another state effective Oct 1.